In what was billed by many to be a trade audition for Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ for the Yankees, the offense ended up starring.
Happ surrendered back-to-back home runs to the game’s first batters, as Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge greeted him rudely to give the Yankees a quick 2-to-0 advantage. Happ then walked Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Hicks. He managed to strike out Didi Gregorius and Miguel Andújar before allowing a 2-run double to Brandon Drury that just squirted over the head of a leaping Kevin Pillar.
Pillar would exact his revenge in the bottom the second off Luis Severino. After Justin Smoak led off the inning with a single, Pillar ripped a hanging slider over the left field wall for a two-run home run.
The Yankees got back into the scoring column in the following frame. Didi led off with a walk, but the next two hitters failed to advance him into scoring position. The second of which was Kyle Higashioka, who was called out on strikes with an absolutely glacial call by home-plate umpire Lance Barrett. CC Sabathia began to chirp from the dugout, and Barrett was having none of it. He warned Sabathia but gave him approximately three more words before tossing him from the dugout. Aaron Boone came out and attempted to smooth things over but it was clear Sabathia was the victim of a quick trigger.
With the ejection dealt with, Happ then walked Greg Bird. On his way to remove Happ, Jays manager John Gibbons had some words with Barrett. As Jake Petricka began his warmups, Gibbons himself took exception to some of Barrett’s decisions with the strike zone and got himself run as well. The second pitch Petricka threw ended up being rocked into the gap for a two-run triple by Gardner. The Yankee left fielder then scored on a passed ball by Luke Maile, which came on a 97 mph two-seam fastball.
In the bottom of the fourth, Randal Grichuk tagged Severino for a solo shot, marking the first time this season that the Yankees right-hander allowed more than one home run in a single game. The Jays scored again on a sacrifice fly by Pillar in the sixth, and on a garbage time Aledmys Díaz home run in the ninth off Chasen Shreve (more on this debacle later).
The Yankees became concerned in the fifth inning as center fielder Aaron Hicks was replaced in the outfield by Clint Frazier in left, with Gardner moving over to center field. The cause of this was revealed after the game as cramping in his left leg. Hicks should not have any lingering injury but will sit Sunday’s game as a precaution.
In the Yankees’ half of the ninth, Andújar smoked a double (measured at 109.6 mph) to leadoff the inning. Gregorius then followed by poking a single to left to push Andújar across as the final insurance run.
Aroldis Chapman was brought in to record the final three outs of the game, though it was a non-save situation. He only made it through six pitches, when he pulled up lame on his left leg after striking out Grichuk. Boone removed Chapman, who felt soreness in his left knee because of tendinitis that he has been dealing with all season. Shreve, who would have entered the game had the Yankees created a bigger advantage, was summoned to the mound. He worked a ground out from Maile and allowed Díaz’s eighth home run of the season before striking out pinch-hitter Teoscar Hernández to end the game.
Severino was due for an outing where he did not have his best stuff, but luckily the Yankees’ offense was ready to bail him out. The team is now hoping the injury scares for Chapman and Hicks prove to be minor. They now must play nine games in eight days in three cities before the All-Star Break arrives July 16.
Domingo Germán gets the nod in the series finale against the Jays and lefty Ryan Borucki.
This game was the subject of a conflict between the Yankees organization and ESPN, as the latter wanted to televise the game at 8:05 p.m. as their Sunday Night Baseball game of the week. With a doubleheader scheduled the following day in Baltimore, the Yankees cried foul, and even threatened to strip ESPN reporters of their clubhouse credentials. The network later relented, and moved the game into a 1:05 p.m. start time. The national spotlight will now be on the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels Sunday night at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.